It seems inappropriate for Source, a section of the Maine Sunday Telegram dedicated to sustainability and environmental stewardship, to promote agribusiness trucking in hundreds of workers across thousands of miles to harvest local crops while undercutting the local labor market (“Immigration cloud hangs over local farms,” Page S1, March 5).
It is more environmentally responsible to purchase a tomato from Central America grown by indigenous people than to buy a tomato grown in Massachusetts by workers shipped from the same region.
Sure, the business owner makes out, and the migrant laborers can live on welfare payments while sending the wages home, but the locals and the environment suffer.
When a business owner complains, “I can’t find any workers …,” it’s always appropriate to add the words she’s careful to leave out: “… at the wages I am willing to pay to sustain my profits.”
If you can’t pay enough to attract workers, then you don’t really have a sustainable business. The only reason they can keep pocketing profits is they have socialized the cost of labor. It’s a pretty neat trick that agribusiness has managed to foist the true cost of workers onto the taxpayers. I feel bad for the local farmer, teenagers and unemployed who can’t make a viable economic arrangement because the big farm next door is busing in hundreds of migrant workers.
It would be better for the environment and the local community to ban this practice. And if you think a pint of blueberries is inexpensive, that’s because the real cost is hidden in your tax bill.